Shh! Don't ever tell my parents. They'd kill me. Well, maybe not at this point in my life but they certainly would have way back then....when it happened. My buddy Dan at Dan Nation published this with regard to Woodstock. And his posting reminded me of one that I did regarding the Summer of Love. And all of that led to a brief email exchange between Dan and I in which I confessed something horrible: That I've got an overpowering alter ego hiding inside longing to get out. It's one that could easily have been happy in the late 1960s and 1970s having fun hanging out in the back of a Chevy van, wearing bell-bottomed jeans and no shirt, skipping the deodorant, and going barefoot. Traveling, free and easy, no job, no nothing. Just me, my friends, and the road beneath us. And that email exchange reminded me of something that I'm not sure I've ever told my mom. In fact, I'm not so sure she needs to know it.
We lived in Boise, a small city in southwest Idaho, growing up. We lived on a dead end road. It was quiet. Not much going on. We lived next to an elementary school playground. We'd make our way through the playground to go up to the neighborhood grocery store but only after getting special permission to make that long journey (it was probably 1/8 of a mile or so). After the school, we'd pass the local drive-in hamburger joint, and right straight up the back alley where the trucks would deliver the goods to the grocery store. And that's where I found myself one summer afternoon somewhere around 1970. I'm not sure what my mom's grocery list included that day. Or if, just perhaps, I'd snuck away without telling anybody where I was going. But I do remember coming out of the store. I think I had my bicycle with me on this particular trip. The store had a large parking lot in the front of it. And somehow, I found myself way out on the far edge of the parking lot at a van. Like a VW van. The back was popped open. You know, it was a hot summer Idaho day and things were easy and quiet. I've always been the inquisitive sort of dude. There were several guys and several girls both inside of it and hanging around on the outside, sitting around in lawn chairs next to the van. It was obvious looking back that they lived in it and were traveling around in it. I remember beads around necks and, yes, flowers in the hair. The long hair. I also remember, somehow, having a conversation with these kids -- I'm sure they couldn't have been much more than mid-20s. I've always been one for striking up easy conversations with anybody, whether I know them or not....even as an 8-year-old child. I hung out there for what seemed like all afternoon. I remember them smoking. And I remember the smell....maybe pot or patchouli oil or incense. I don't ever remember being scared or feeling unsafe. I don't remember them trying to seduce me or lure me into the van. I just remember great conversation, the beads, the long hair, the smell of whatever they were smoking. The girls were in long sort of dress things. They were all very nice to me. And I remember that I was there so long that I ended up saying, "I'd better go home now before my mom wonders where I am."
But what's funny is that I distinctly remember NOT wanting to go home. I remember wanting to travel, to jump right into that van with them. Like I said earlier, I don't know if my mom ever knew what I'd been up to. She'd probably have shot me (like she had very good reason to many times during my childhood). Yes, me and the Summer of Love have strong ties. It started way back then and I'm afraid it continues right on into today.